13 hidden North Korean missile bases outed in new report

DECEPTION The communist state has around 16 hidden bases producing the devastating weapons

DECEPTION The communist state has around 16 hidden bases producing the devastating weapons

U.S. President Donald Trump says he was not surprised by a recent widely-circulated report on North Korea's secretive missile bases, insisting there was nothing new in the findings. We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal.

"I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!" he wrote.

Pyongyang halted missile and nuclear bomb testing earlier this year but US and South Korean negotiators have yet to elicit from North Korea a concrete declaration of the size or scope of its weapons program me or a promise to stop deploying its existing arsenal.

But researchers at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said they had located 13 missile operating bases that had not been declared by the government, and that there may be as many as 20.

"It rather calls for the need to restart (denuclearization) talks early", he said.

The CSIS reports would appear to complicate efforts by Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to denuclearisation pledges he and his ministers have made in the months since Trump's summit with Kim in Singapore in June.

The Times said the Pentagon had planned to begin deploying a new generation of small, low-priced satellites to track North Korea's mobile missiles, but the programme has been held up by bureaucratic and budget disputes.

The bases are scattered across the country in underground facilities tunnelled in narrow mountain valleys, according to the CSIS researchers, and designed for mobile missile launchers to quickly exit and move to previously prepared launch sites.

While the administration seeks to continue its "maximum pressure" campaign against Kim's regime, momentum is building to ease global sanctions put in place previous year, a move the U.S.is struggling to resist.

North Korea has said it closed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the Sohae missile engine test facility and also raised the possibility of shutting more sites and allowing global inspections if Washington took "corresponding measures".

North Korea analysts not involved in the report said the findings were not surprising given Pyongyang's past activities but were still cause for concern.

Since the summit in Singapore, North Korea has forgone nuclear and missile tests, dismantled a missile test site and promised to also break up the country's main nuclear complex.

United States analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang. "Kim Jong Un only committed voluntarily to halt long-range missile tests".

The United States, meanwhile, has delayed approval of several requests for exemptions to UN sanctions to deliver tractors, spare parts and other humanitarian relief supplies to North Korea, according to documents seen last week by AFP.

The facilities identified in the new report are in strategic locations that would put missiles in range of South Korea and Japan, according to the report.

Construction began on the Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base between 1991 and 1993 and it is thought to have been completed in 2001, and added to since 2011 when Mr Kim came to power.

"As of November 2018, the base is active and being reasonably well-maintained by North Korean standards".

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